Posts Tagged With: the snowmen

Have I Got Whos For You (Part 379)

There’s nothing like a bit of dumbing down, is there? I mean it even happens in here. There was a time when this site was more than simply a glorified meme collection, but most of my sensible writing is reserved for other pages these days. I do have another video collection coming up, but that’ll have to wait for a bit.

What’s been happening this week? Well, the staff at Holby City had to deal with a devastating Cyber attack.

(Yes, that is a Cyberman smoking a fag in the background. You get ’em outside every hospital.)

If you actually saw the thing, it was a two-part story which incorporated various characters from both shows interacting in a joint storyline which put two of their finest on the operating table. While Connie tried desperately to save Ian, who’d overdosed to get away from his incredibly annoying sister, rival queen bee Jac Naylor was fighting to get to the sole working theatre in the building in order to save Sacha, who was clearly in a worse state than he was prepared to let on after he climbed out of the car he’d just crashed. (Inevitably they wound up saving each other’s patients, and everybody learned a valuable lesson.) Meanwhile Sacha’s daughter was downstairs with Essie, who’d had a diabetic attack and was lying prone on the floor of the radiology department, which led to Ric Griffin crawling through the ventilation ducts in a scene that wouldn’t have looked out of place in Alien. All the while, the lights were going out along the corridor, one by one, which is really not how power cuts tend to work.

It did rather remind me of The Stolen Earth. Josh watches Casualty on Thursdays with Em (yes, I know it’s broadcast on Saturdays, but they watch it on Thursdays), and Em and I watch Holby once a week. She is the only one who watches both, which led to Josh filling me in on the Casualty cast and vice versa. But when you drop in characters to both shows it gets awfully confusing. Or, as Gareth put it when Ianto and Gwen were facing off against that Dalek, “Oh great. More people from spin-offs I don’t watch and therefore don’t care about”.

Last Friday, of course, was Women’s International Day.

What? Oh. Oh well, have this anyway.

“Why oh why oh WHY,” someone said, after a fashion, “did you go with a picture of Davison when he didn’t like the idea of a female Doctor? Or are you deliberately trying to get someone to retaliate?”

“I just went with the cricket vibe,” I said. “I don’t think it matters.” You can have great fun mashing up things like this. It annoys the heck out of the traditionalists, and people who don’t understand why you’ve posted this in a Classic Doctor Who group when it’s been tainted with the ineffable stench of something that was created nine years (or sixteen, depending on how you count) after a designated cut-off point. I mean, there’s a market for separating old and new, for certain, because they are very different shows. But it inevitably leads to fallout. How long is that going to last, do we think? Will there be a point at which it’s all…I don’t know, Doctor Who?

Presumably, if and when that happens we’re going to have to find new ways of annoying the puritans. Luckily I’ve got a stack of them lined up.

This one was funny. I had someone tell me that the Daleks were older than Vader.

“No they’re not,” I said.

21 December 1963 to 1 February 1964 first appearance of the Daleks. 1977, first appearance of Darth Vader. Yes yes they are :/

“No, no they’re not. The Genesis of the Daleks happened thousands, if not millions of years in our future. Star Wars happened a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away.”

“The Daleks have a time machine and were created outside of time and space by a fallen Time Lord. There’s nothing stating that it happened in the future but according to several episodes the Daleks and their creators were at war with the Daleks in the time before time began. Ergo still older.”

“Somewhere along the line I fear you may have rather missed the point of all this.”

“No, I caught on when you commented but decided to just continue being sassy. :P”

GAAAH. I hate it when they catch me out.

What else has been happening? Well, there was tension at a house in London when Dr Simeon elected not to dress up for World Book Day.

And in politics, Theresa May isn’t having the best of weeks, but she did have time to upload this to her Twitter account.

(If you missed the reference, have a read of this. It was almost certainly down to the person who runs the Downing Street Twitter account, and as is the case with most things of this nature, it is very churlish to blame her directly. Watching her handle this train crash of a government I happen to think she’s probably a very nice woman in an impossible situation, and whatever my misgivings about Brexit she’s the best of a very bad lot. I also imagine she’s a lot of fun at parties.)

Much of the Brexit campaigning, of course, consisted of both sides telling us about dreadful things that would happen if we stayed in / left the EU, most of which probably weren’t true at all. It was done largely to scare people, which in turn distracts us from the really important issues and drives up internet traffic, and what was weird about it was that it isn’t something that normally happens, at least not in popular culture.

Away from fake scare stories there has, at long last, been word from the Disney front about the upcoming Aladdin remake, with a full length trailer finally released this week. And for all you Doctor Who fans, there was a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it Easter Egg during the magic carpet sequence.

“A whole new w-”


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Have I Got Whos For You (Festive Edition)

“Oh. You’ve redecorated.”

The snowman is about the best part of it. The rest of it looks deliberately pasted on, which I suppose is the point. I can never quite get the hang of lighting in things like this, but I suppose if we’re talking about a fictional alien spacecraft in an entirely made-up TV series, it doesn’t matter if things look a bit plastic.

Anyway, having done up the TARDIS, it’s off for a spot of carol singing.

It’s been a funny few days, really; the fans are angry about the absence of a Christmas episode, never mind the fact that the constant repetition of the ‘Resolution’ trailer meant we had more Doctor Who on our screens yesterday than we have for years. It was helpful, at least, that the BBC finally confirmed what most of us had already figured out even before it was leaked. (And for the record, they never denied the existence of Daleks, nor did they say they were gone for good. So no one lied to you and you can stop complaining about it.)

Meanwhile, in the real world, people are arguing over exactly what may or may not have been said about the Prime Minister, presumably in an attempt to avoid discussing the stuff that actually counts.

Those of you still crying out for a Christmas episode could always head over to The Doctor Who Companion, where I’ve written a festive short story featuring the Thirteenth Doctor and her companions. It features time travel, bad Photoshopping and jokes at the expense of the fandom, and there may be a couple of Father Ted references.

Meanwhile, over here at BoM, the Twelfth Doctor is unable to understand the appeal of stag parties.

“Is there something on my head?”

Anyway, people always talked about wanting a musical episode, and I saw a couple of musicals recently and then one thing sort of led to another…

Incidentally, a very Happy Christmas to all of you at home.

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The inevitable Doctor Who / John Lewis thing


It’s a dog. On a trampoline.

I mean, I can’t get too excited about it. I really can’t. They were doing so well. That old man with the telescope was a work of genius, despite being scientifically implausible and mawkishly sentimental. It said something important. It was touching. It made me cry, dammit. This one was tedious. It’s not even funny. Bad Buster. Go to your kennel.

John Lewis’ Christmas advertising always makes the headlines, as people discuss the adverts, the thinking behind them, the music, the emotional fallout, the fact that this is just going to encourage parents to buy trampolines and dogs, the risk of bovine TB…do you ever think that there’s such a thing as internet pollution? I know I do. It’s just so much rubbish, with perhaps a greater emphasis than one might expect from ‘so much’ – a myriad different websites all saying more or less the same thing. It passes the time, but I wonder how much we really stand to gain from saturating the web in this way.

Anyway. This post started life as a simple collection of Photoshopped images – the Man on the Moon image, produced last year, was the first, and the others followed yesterday. But a curious thing happened while I was cutting and pasting and adjusting hues and shadows. The moment of clarity occurred when I stopped to consider the fact that the twisted snowmen who appeared in Doctor Who turned up the same Christmas that John Lewis had their own snowman trekking across the wilderness to find a present for his soon-to-be-a-puddle playmate. This by itself means nothing, until you stop and consider the fact that the developments John Lewis took with their seasonal narratives echo (with uncanny precision) the way that Doctor Who has been written and produced these past few years.

Don’t believe me? Let’s take a look. (For obvious reasons, these concentrate on the past few years – the period when John Lewis actively started telling stories in their Christmas ads. And for what it’s worth, I tried – I really did – to work in 2011 as well. But it just didn’t fit.)

2012 – The Journey

In the John Lewis Christmas ad: An anthropomorphic snowman embarks on an epic quest to find a scarf.

In Doctor Who: A grumpy Time Lord, fond of scarves, embarks on an epic quest to investigate an anthropomorphic snowman.



2013 – The Bear and the Hare

In the John Lewis Christmas ad: A tired, grizzly, world-weary bear is chronologically displaced when his hibernation is rudely interrupted. It turns out to be the best thing that could have happened. Features a hare.

In Doctor Who: A tired, grizzly, world-weary Time Lord is chronologically displaced when his destruction of Gallifrey is rudely interrupted. It turns out to be the best thing that could have happened. Features a rabbit.



2014 – Monty the Penguin

In the John Lewis Christmas ad: A young boy spends Christmas with a penguin, whose living, breathing presence turns out to exist only in his imagination. He is observed by a parent, who watches as another imaginary penguin emerges from a box that appears to be bigger on the inside.

In Doctor Who: A young English teacher spends Christmas with her boyfriend, whose living, breathing presence turns out to exist only in his imagination. She is observed by a parental figure, emerging from a box that is bigger on the inside, and who once travelled with a penguin.

jl_dw_02 jl_comp_2014

2015 – Man on the Moon

In the John Lewis Christmas ad: A lonely old man, clearly not of this world, is re-invigorated thanks to the affection of a small child. And a telescope.

In Doctor Who: A lonely old man, clearly not of this world, is re-invigorated thanks to the affection of a bisexual English teacher. And an electric guitar.



2016 – Buster the Boxer

In the John Lewis Christmas ad: An over-excited girl eagerly awaits the arrival of Christmas morning, only to find that her new present has been invaded by small woodland animals, and she has to wait until the dog has finished jumping on it.

In Doctor Who: A horde of over-excited fans eagerly await the arrival of a new series, only to find that it’s been delayed and that the new assistant looks a little bit like a dog, and they have to wait until the spin-off has finished.

jl_dw_04 jl_comp_2016

Spooky, isn’t it? Next week in Brian of Morbius: the nesting habits of tuna.

Categories: Crossovers | Tags: , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Eggwatch, Part 6 (and 7)

Gareth and I were talking about the God is in the Detail posts. I was explaining that they really are a joy to produce. There is no sense of logic, no planning, no structure. I simply scrub back and forth throughout the video and grab any still image that I think could be significant if you were looking for something incredibly obscure. Anything goes, the sillier the better.

“It is very silly,” said Gareth, “and, rather disturbingly, not so far from some of the discussions I encounter online.”

That struck a chord with me. I do hope the satire is obvious, and that no one is looking at this lot and thinking that I’m actually serious about anything I post. I have tried to be increasingly flippant as time goes on, but if there’s one thing I’ve leaned about the interweb over the years it’s that someone is always on hand to miss the joke.

“But wait a minute,” said Gareth. “These episodes are part of series 7, aren’t they? Which means we should do Eggwatch again!” And he was right, dammit.

For those of you who are new round here, Eggwatch was something we ran last year, when we realised that the ‘subtle’ arc that Moffat talked about for the first half of series 7 was eggs. And behold, there were eggs in every episode, if you knew where to look. Sort of. Egg-like substances, anyway. Of course, this half of the series is all about Clara, but there’s no reason why eggs shouldn’t continue their recurring appearances. There’s plenty of room to share.

Except, of course, I’ve just spent forty-five minutes going through ‘The Snowmen’ and I can’t find one. Single. Egg.

The Snowmen_0.44.31.20

Well, almost. Oh, and Gareth has pointed out that Clara talks about soufflés again – ground we covered in Eggwatch, Part 1, but no harm in revisiting. Still, all told the results are a bit disappointing.

But I will not be deterred, so let’s move on to ‘The Bells of Saint John’, which has a lengthy sequence in which the Doctor and Clara order breakfast in a cafe, where there is again not a single egg on show. It’s a wasted opportunity, but then you look at the monster-of-the-week, and it’s enough to restore your faith in humanity.


A spoonhead, of course. And what do you put on spoons? Specifically on sports day? Josh, has the answer.


There will be more Eggwatch in a few days. Take us home, Roy Zippy. (Scrub to 7:05.)

Categories: Eggwatch, New Who | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

God is in the detail (iv)

There are – horrors! – only three more days until the Doctor is reunited with Kevin Bacon Clara Oswin and they get to fly around the universe for a bit.

Well, three days for you lot, anyway. I have to wait until next week and we’re back from our Easter break, during which time I will probably be prevented from watching Doctor Who on the grounds that my mother-in-law doesn’t care for it and their internet signal really doesn’t allow that much broadband hogging for private viewing on the iPlayer. No matter. I can stay spoiler-free (it will be a good excuse to curb my Guardian website addiction), at least for a couple of days.

Readers who were around last autumn will recall a series of posts I did during series seven about SEEMINGLY UNIMPORTANT THINGS THAT WILL TURN OUT TO BE HIGHLY SIGNIFICANT. Of course, none of them are. It’s just that Moffat’s renowned for giving us puzzles to solve – where Davies would just drop in as many references as he could, with as much subtlety as River Song’s attempts at seduction, Moffat prefers to tease his audience. There was the whole Other Doctor Sightings list throughout series five, and then the question of the Doctor’s apparent assassination that wasn’t – and even now he’s still giving out press releases saying that Sherlock cheated death because “there’s a clue that everyone’s missed”.

At the time I realised my attitude could bend in two directions: I could go on and on about how irritating this is, or I could get in on the act. If you want to play catch-up, have a look here:

‘Asylum of the Daleks’ / ‘Dinosaurs on a Spaceship’

‘A Town Called Mercy’

‘The Power of Three’

There is no entry for ‘The Angels Take Manhattan’ because as an ending it’s fairly unambiguous. The same may not be said, of course, for ‘The Snowmen’, which kickstarts the new Mystery of the Series, namely who on earth is Clara Oswin?

So I went back through ‘The Snowmen’ this week and it turns out that there are, in fact, several OBVIOUS CLUES which will be considered below.

First: Madame Vastra’s conservatory.

The Snowmen_0.26.04.16

Of course, in this still shot it looks like Vastra is using the ‘shhing’ technique that the Doctor used on Craig in ‘Closing Time’. But don’t think about that. Look at the flowers. They’re purple, right? And purple is an obvious gay colour, right? And Madame Vastra’s a lesbian, right? And Clara Oswin mentioned, in ‘Asylum’, “going through a phase”. This is a clear indication that she’s a regenerated version of Jenny, the wife of the Lizard Woman from the Dawn of Time.

But wait! It may not be that simple. Because look at this.

The Snowmen_0.07.57.17

Notice the mole on Jenny’s cheek. And then remember this.


ANDY: How long did it take you to suss him out, then?

RIMMER: Ahh, I had him sussed right from the beginning.

ANDY: Really? You found the Captain’s message right away?!

RIMMER: [Taken aback] What Captain’s message?

ANDY: The one that’s hidden in the microdot in the ‘i’ in Rimmer’s swimming certificate. Well, that’s the clue, isn’t it? Rimmer having a swimming certificate and not being able to swim!

KRYTEN: That’s a clue?!

ANDY: It’s a blatant clue, isn’t it?

RIMMER: A blatant clue to what?

ANDY: A blatant clue to the truth behind Rimmer.

RIMMER: What truth?

ANDY: The truth to why he is such an insufferable prat.

Microdots. Moles. Jenny’s hiding something.

Maybe she’s hiding the fact that sailors and Jewish girls will figure in the next series.

The Snowmen_0.21.13.21

If you haven’t seen Schindler’s List this one isn’t may have gone over your head, but the use of red here mirrors Spielberg’s epic and gives a clear indication that the Eleventh Doctor is off to finally get Hitler out of that cupboard. And then appear in an off-Broadway version of South Pacific. (Red also figures prominently in The Sixth Sense, which features a cupboard.)

But it all makes sense when you look at the Latimers’ front room.

The Snowmen_0.20.25.10

Never mind the obvious borrowing of a name that has form in New Who. You’re thinking I’m going to talk about the red on the fireplace, aren’t you? Wrong. Look to your left, at the leopard coat on the chair. This is a clear and unambiguous reference to the imminent return of the Cheetah People from ‘Survival’, and Clara’s eventual unmasking as one of their number. So now you know.

Lastly, look at Clara’s earring.

The Snowmen_0.42.27.18

It’s (roughly) circular, and an unbroken circle continues forever, which is how long Moffat’s planning on padding out this mystery. Or so it will seem.

Prove me wrong. I dare you!

Categories: God is in the Detail, New Who | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Snow Dalek

So here’s what we were doing yesterday. I knew that egg whisk would come in handy for something.

The body took the longest; once that was in place we managed to sculpt the details in about half an hour. We used plastic bowls from the kitchen for moulding the bumps. As is traditional with these things, the project was started with motivated enthusiasm by four of our family and finished by the grown-ups after the children got bored, but I have to say I’m rather pleased with the result.

Of course, if it comes to life in the middle of the night, we’re royally screwed.

Categories: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Review: ‘The Snowmen’

Around this time last year, I wrote that the function of the Doctor Who Christmas special – if we must have such things, although that’s a whole separate argument – should be to entertain people who don’t usually watch the show, and entice them into full-time viewership. It would be nice, for example, if someone were to be amused and interested by a Christmas episode, to the extent that they then checked out the next series, before then looking into the recent history of the show starting with Eccleston, and then eventually delved into Classic Who and realised how much better that was. I don’t have the viewing stats to hand, but I’d be willing to bet that at Christmas there are a good number of people watching Doctor Who that normally don’t – in the houses of Who-obsessed relatives, for example – and this is thus a good chance for the writers to evangelise.

Emily and I watched this episode alone, and I was glad that we did. Because while it felt more Whovian than last year’s instalment, it was practically impenetrable. Despite the hopeless Neela Debnath’s insistence that “it works as a standalone due to the simple story and the self-contained nature of it” (a comment I suspect she wrote about halfway through her first viewing, and then forgot to delete), you really can’t watch this without knowing what’s come before. It’s like trying to watch The Two Towers without seeing Fellowship of the Ring first. It hangs together as a standalone narrative, in that it adheres to the three-act structure, but the character’s motivations are going to be one big haze, and you’ll spend most of your time wondering why Vigo Mortensen doesn’t want to be king, wishing that John Rhys Davies would shut up (more on that later) and wondering why on earth Liv Tyler is there at all.

It’s just about enough to be told, for example, that the Doctor has suffered a loss and that this is what’s made him grumpy. Certainly this is not a man that you’d want to see leading a family drama series in his current state, and not someone you’d necessarily like if you didn’t realise that he was normally a lot chirpier. He’s become the burned-out cop who is hauled back in for one last job, engaging with society only reluctantly, and living in a castle on a cloud. Knowledge of the supporting characters, too, is inessential – although it would help, surely, to know that The Doctor is being assisted by two alien races (fine, the Silurians are more like flatmates) acting very much against type. The inexplicable return of the previously deceased Sontaran is mentioned only briefly, as the Doctor tells Clara that “another friend of mine brought him back”, so this is presumably something that Moffat is going to be explaining at some point in the future, in that smug-but-annoying way he does.

Then it gets to the last ten minutes, and all hell breaks loose.

Clara Oswin Oswald – as a standalone character – just about worked. We learn almost nothing of her past or motivations during the hour or so that we get to know her; one would assume that she keeps her double life a secret because class warfare was so rampant. In terms of both costume and voice she flits between being Mary Poppins and Nancy, the barmaid from Oliver Twist – her red button-up dress is a direct homage to the latter, and when she’s first seen collecting mugs in the Rose and Crown I half-expected her to start singing a chorus of ‘Oom-Pah-Pah’. Later, she is seen climbing a stairway that leads to the cloud where the TARDIS is parked, and – oh, well, one thing led to another.

I spent the first five minutes wondering why on earth the Doctor failed to recognise Clara, before recalling that the last time we saw her, he didn’t – or at least he saw nothing except a Dalek shell. The voice conjures up memories but it isn’t until the soufflé reference that the penny finally drops, before rolling down the drain of ambiguity into the sewer of general confusion. Because let’s face it – if you didn’t know that the actress who played Clara appeared in the last series as a marooned traveller with a very similar name who turned out to be a Dalek, you’d be hopelessly confused even when it was shown in flashback. It was explained, but even the explanation was unnecessary, because if you know what they’re talking about you don’t need to hear it again, and if you have no idea then someone else in the room will be able to explain it better than Moffat did. It was a shoehorned explanation, no doubt submitted for the approval of the board, rather than anything that worked from a writing standpoint.

Of course, the next season’s arc is established even before we know the title of the first episode: it will be Clara / Oswin / Jasmine and her mysterious omnipresence. One assumes both from the ending and from the trailer that followed ‘The Snowmen’ that he’ll meet at least one more version of her and that they’ll travel together – or perhaps the unnamed Oswin that we saw in the episode’s final scene is simply another incarnation who will meet their doom at the end of the first episode, like a highly condensed version of Blackadder, and the whole thing’s going to become incredibly stale in about three seconds flat. Killing a future companion once is one thing, killing them twice is intriguing, but if this is something Moffat’s going to do every week it’s going to get very dull very quickly. I shouldn’t be surprised, of course – our chief writer is renowned for self-borrowing and a companion who meets multiple deaths over and over again is something he’s never done before in the show, ever.

More than this, is it really necessary to have – once again – a companion that’s the centre of the show? Oswin’s been described to me (by Gareth, summarising) as a plot device with a pretty face, in much the same way that Amy / Donna / Rose were consigned similar fates. Admittedly some of the Classic Who companions were pretty vacuous, but their role was solely to be reactive rather than proactive – responding to cataclysm rather than being the cause of it – and at no point did the show really suffer for this. The role of the companion, we’re constantly told, is to be our eyes and ears into the Whoniverse – the person to whom we’re supposed to relate – and while I don’t really believe that this has to be the case, Moffat’s alternative is another example of him writing characters to fit the plot, rather than the other way round.

There were several other things that annoyed me.

1. Richard E. Grant. I know that telling a coherent story in the space of an hour was always going to be a stretch, but is it really fair to ask one of the finest British actors around to appear in Doctor Who as the villain and then give him nothing to do except look menacing and growl a bit? It was like watching all those character actors in Harry Potter, standing around and muttering their two lines of dialogue before cashing the cheque and heading off to The Late Show for the publicity interviews. Both the snowmen themselves and their creator were a colossal McGuffin – the episode was really about Clara, and we knew that – but by the end of the story we still knew next to nothing of Simeon’s motivations or backstory, and his entire presence seemed a bit of a wasted opportunity.

2. Strax’s use as comic relief. Come on, Steven. It’s not enough that you have a lactating Sontaran – you have to turn him into the “short, funny character”? It’s Gimli the dwarf all over again. I’ll grant you that the sequence with the worm was amusing, but when Strax appeared for the third time in the hallway asking about grenades I was about ready to put him in the oven and cover him with tuna or butter (god knows the episode had enough cheese already, but we’ll come to that).

3. The ending, in which the snow melts because a family is crying. Read that again. The snow. Melts. Because. A FAMILY. Is CRYING. Onscreen  it was bad enough, albeit glossed over with lots of soft lighting, mournful looks and Murray Gold schmaltz. Condensed into a sentence in the cold light of day it is exposed for the atrocity it was: a dreadful, third-rate finale unworthy of any family show, least of all this one. Only Russell T Davies has written worse.


4. The excessive use of ‘Doctor Who?’. It’s bad enough that they do it once. I got to three. There may have been more; I stopped counting.


It wasn’t all bad, of course. The new titles and theme music work well – gone is the irritating counterpoint that cluttered Murray Gold’s earlier arrangements, and the drums have been turned down. It’s still too loud and too brash but it’s edging closer and closer towards the versions that actually worked, even if the backdrop now looks quite close to what the Beeb were doing in the eighties during Sylvester McCoy’s run. To give you an idea, here’s the two of them side by side.

We may never go back to the sinister (and quiet) moodiness of the original, but this may be the closest we get, and whatever happens next, this was a step in the right direction. Likewise, the stripped-down TARDIS interior – reflecting a colder, moodier Doctor – was a throwback to the classic console designs of old, and when the doors opened for the first time I almost cheered.


Mention should also go to the striking visual approach they took – from the writing in the snow in the opening scene to the washed-out colour in the gardens of the Latimer residence, where Clara and the children were saturated against a subdued background in a subtle rendering of the tricks Spielberg was using in Schindler’s List. It really was very effective, particularly in HD, and a welcome change from the excessive browns that ruled the roost the last time Jenna-Louise Coleman made an appearance. The snowmen themselves were similarly impressive, although we saw too little of them for any lasting impression to be made – that’s probably for the best, as excessive sight of the monsters was one of the nails in the coffin of the Alien franchise, but suffice to say they resembled an evil version of Michael Keaton’s Jack Frost character.



Similarly, the cast acquit themselves well, and even Richard E. Grant made the most with what he had. Smith’s transformation from grumpy loner to the life-affirming Doctor we’ve come to love was executed with his usual panache – the divesting of Amy’s glasses, unseen but implied, was a particularly nice touch, and if he regained his zest a little too abruptly that’s largely the fault of the script, not the performer. Coleman’s job was to be feisty (which I’ve complained about before) but she was never less than watchable. Ian McKellen’s voiceover was competent, and complaints about comic relief aside, the Strax / Jenny / Vastra combination worked well – although I do wish that Moffat didn’t see the need to hammer home the lesbian thing as if it were something to be smug about (hey, look, Doctor Who is politically correct! Who knew?). It did, of course, mean that Madame Vastra got the episode’s best line, arriving on Captain Latimer’s doorstep with Jenny and Strax in tow and announcing “I’m a lizard woman from the dawn of time, and this is my wife”.

But as a whole, the episode probably got more wrong than it got right. Decent effects and a few big names do not a good story make, and it feels as if Moffat figured he could dump a few interesting characters into Victorian London, create a twisted version of Frosty the Snowman to scare the kids, throw in a few Christmas Carol analogies and then churn it out on December 25th without a single viewer noticing that he hadn’t actually given any of said characters anything substantial to do. It was an episode about the Doctor coming halfway out of the dark, and that’s probably what the show needed, but you can’t just build an hour-long character piece in a show like this if you’re not going to have something that at least vaguely resembles dramatic tension, and at no point – no point at all – did I feel that any of the characters were in any danger, neither from the snowmen or from the ice nanny, or from McKellen’s snow globe / talking plasma ball. Instead I spent all my time wondering who Clara was and where she came from, and given that (as I’ve realised this morning) I don’t actually care, that makes ‘The Snowmen’, for all its efforts, something of a failure. Humbug.

Categories: Reviews | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

‘Twas the Feist before Christmas

Take a good look.


Intelligent? Probably. Well-dressed, which would indicate education. There’s a warmth in those eyes, but an air of common sense too. But none of this matters, because the word that invariably gets used to describe the arrival of any new companion – and I mean it, any new companion – is ‘feisty’. Seriously. Look it up. Go on. I can wait. Just Google ‘Doctor Who companions feisty’ (sans quotes) and, for maximum effectiveness, filter the search results so that they exclude anything before November this year (otherwise you’ll just get pages of stuff about Clara).

Gareth was talking to me back in September. “Well, we’ve not met Clara yet, of course,” he said. “She’s obviously going to be feisty, yawn.”

“A feisty companion?” I remember replying. Well, that’ll be new.”

Then just yesterday I had an email from him:

My parents’ Christmas paper has a page-long feature about the impending
Who episode.  We get Clara described to us three times: once in the
heading paragraph, once in the main text, and once by Jenna-Louise Thingy

“Doctor Who has a new woman in his life, but even feisty Jenna-Louise
Coleman can’t dispel the air of icy menace that hangs over this year’s
Christmas special.”

“… but the arrival of a the feisty young governess called Clara soon
puts a smile back on his face.”

“‘Clara is a mysterious one,’ Jenna-Louise teases.  ‘She’s very down to
earth, but feisty and curious, too.”

Oh goody.  We haven’t had a feisty young female in New Who for ages.”

Someone needs to get down to W.H. Smith and get Moffat and Coleman a thesaurus for Yule. I think they’re still open.



Categories: New Who | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

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